Professional sports have returned. With that in mind, I recently asked our writers who they thought “America’s Team” was as part of our “Turf Weighs In” series. I was definitely interested in seeing if the Dallas Cowboys were still the runaway favorites, or if there were other contenders that would take the crown. Then I started thinking “outside the box” a bit.
Blame the extra free time I have as a result of the pandemic. Blame the endless news coverage about it. Heck – you can even blame my most recent binge of “The West Wing” on Netflix – but it all got me thinking about our government and our nation as a whole. In one of the countless articles I’ve absorbed during the last several months, someone was quoted as saying “we’re all on the same team” when talking about dealing with the pandemic. Color me skeptical, but I’m not entirely sure if that’s true.
What Makes for a Successful “Team”
The dictionary defines the word “team” as follows:
A number of persons associated together in work or activity.Merriam-Webster Dictionary
OK, great. We’re all “associated together” as Americans. Check. Now – are we the 1972 Miami Dolphins, who went undefeated en route to winning Super Bowl VII, or are we the 2017 Cleveland Browns, who couldn’t muster a single victory? As I set out to investigate further, I pondered what qualities are necessary for a successful team.
A quick Google search yielded a plethora of articles offering bullet points of qualities that are necessary for a team to achieve success – whether in a workplace or on an athletic field of competition. Though the focus of each article is narrowed to its particular scope, below are some of the traits that were common to pretty much everyone’s list:
Clear Vision & Common Goals
In this case, I would say the vision would be a world without COVID-19. While that seems unlikely in the short term, I think we can all agree that getting the virus under control as best we can is a goal we would like to achieve, yes?
Great – we’re all on the same page. Now – what will success look like when it’s achieved? Will we be able to put the shared objective above our own individual aims? Whether it’s sending kids back to school in person, or wearing a mask, or reopening (be it on a local, state, or national level) in an attempt to restart the economy – our vision seems pretty blurry, clouded by personal agendas and leaving the shared objective seemingly on the back burner.
Someone to serve as the glue holding everything together. Someone who can motivate the team, provide a clear voice to articulate our shared goals, and clearly lay out a path to achieving them. Hmmmm. I think I’m just going to let this one speak for itself.
Team Cooperation & Trust
Whether it’s 11 players on a soccer or football field, 6 skaters on the ice or 5 players on the hardwood – everyone should have a common goal in order to achieve any degree of success. There must be a degree of belief in each other’s integrity, character, and ability. I’m hard pressed to see much cooperation coming from our leaders these days.
We need to be open with each other, listening to each other, and sharing feedback in a concerted effort to come to a shared understanding and avoid “crossing wires”. I’m fairly certain that terms like “fake news” and “cancel culture”, (just to name a few), aren’t constructive, and it seems like we could all improve in our ability to listen to each other.
United We Stand, Divided We Fall
I mentioned one of my all-time favorite shows earlier – “The West Wing”. If you haven’t heard of it or taken the time to watch it – I highly recommend doing so. The entire series is available on Netflix. It offers a fascinating peek inside the mechanics of government. I hearken back to a quote from the show that seems appropriate:
There are times when we’re 50 states, and times when we’re one countryThe West Wing – Season 4, Episode 6 – “Game On”
Look – I’m well aware of the complexity and enormity of this situation. We’re enduring a generational challenge – not even taking into account all of the other issues we’re dealing with as a nation. The scope of this pandemic has laid bare where we’re at as a country and a society. I understand that people have different thoughts about how to achieve our end goals – but it seems to me that if we can’t even get on the same page about the basics then we’re destined to be wearing brown paper bags over our heads.
The fact of the matter is this – regardless of how we all feel about the collective response to this pandemic as a nation, the ONLY way we will be able to reach the light at the end of the tunnel is TOGETHER. AS A TEAM, as a people united against a common opponent – the virus.
In 2018 the Cleveland Browns got together as a team. They acknowledged that the previous season didn’t play out the way they’d hoped. Despite that, they showed up at training camp determined to do better. Please – for this game at least – let’s not wear the uniform of the elephant or the mule, but rather the one of the American Bald Eagle. Maybe then we can put one in the win column for the country.
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